15. September 2010 01:19
One of my high school players asked me if I will teach Luke and Jack that they “can be anything they want to be when they grow up.”
I said “nope.”
He was shocked!
They thought that’s what parents were supposed to teach their kids
Not me. Why won’t I teach them that? It is
You can’t be anything you want to be. But you can be anything you deserve to be.
There is a significant difference between wanting and deserving.
Wanting it is not enough. Everyone wants it. Only a few deserve it.
And what is the “it” I am referring too?
People put too much energy in the wanting part. All they do is sit around wishing, dreaming, and hoping for success.
Instead, they need to put their energy into deserving success. They need to put their focus into earning success. They have to put on their hard hat, roll up their sleeves, and work for success.
Don’t get it twisted… there is nothing wrong with having dreams. You should have dreams!
But unless you actively pursue those dreams with effort, determination, and persistence … they are meaningless.
Do you want to make the varsity team this year? Do you deserve to?
Do you want to win a championship? Do you deserve to?
Do you want to play basketball at the next level? Do you deserve to?
Elite level players and championship caliber programs know the difference between wanting and deserving success. Your pre-season program is when you make that distinction. Are you doing everything in your power to deserve success once the season starts?
Do I believe Luke and Jack can be anything they deserve to be when they grow up? Absolutely.
And I will begin teaching them that at a very young age.
If you are looking for some innovative jump training drills to add to your pre-season workouts, check out http://TinyUrl.com/JumpTrainingForBasketball
As always, please let me know if I can ever be of service to you for your program. You can email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart.
PS: I sent out a batch of FREE “coaching nuggets” last week. If you requested them and didn’t receive them, please email me again. Many school firewalls prevented the emails from being received because of the rather large attached file.
13. May 2009 23:43
Last week’s blog began with a quick monologue about how much I love my job and how fortunate I am to do what I do. This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to San Antonio to speak in front of 1,500+ coaches at the annual TABC Basketball Clinic as well as to Las Vegas to speak in front of 2,000+ coaches at the Nike Championship Basketball Clinic (which holds claim as the “world’s largest basketball coaching clinic!”). Both clinics went extremely well and I had an absolute blast being a part of such incredible events. Speaking at clinics and teaching coaches how to train their players is yet another segment of my business that I thoroughly enjoy. I have so much respect for high school coaches; it is always an honor to help them in any way I can. High school coaches coach because they love the game and enjoy helping young people (two things I am very passionate about as well). They certainly don’t do it for fame or money. Some of the most dedicated people I have ever met in my life have been high school basketball coaches.
While I have been traveling a ton and doing a fair amount of pre-draft training for the past several weeks, this past week marked the official kick off to my super busy season. Many college players just finished their semesters and are home for a few weeks before summer school starts up. So I have had a gang of guys start coming in for workouts. Most of these players I have known and worked with since their high school days and it’s been great catching up with them.
My goal has always been to create an extraordinary environment for elite level basketball players to strength train and condition. An environment for dedicated players to work hard, yet have fun as well. I work hard to stay on the cutting edge of basketball specific training methodology, techniques, and equipment to make sure I fulfill my goal. I prefer to train 3 or 4 guys per workout because the group dynamic always adds to the intensity (and the fun!). I also try to get my returning college guys (like Nolan Smith, Austin Freeman, Marcus Ginyard) around my pre-draft guys (like Tywon Lawson, Stephen Curry, Greivis Vasquez) and my pre-draft guys around my NBA guys (Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley) to help aid their motivation. Being around players who are where you want to be is a tremendous motivator.
Dedication and commitment are essential for success in any endeavor, but especially in basketball. The game is so unbelievable competitive right now, if you aren’t dedicated, you won’t make it. That goes for everyone; from high school players to the NBA. The current crop of players I am working with are incredibly dedicated. Each one of them is keenly focused on their own skill and physical development and on achieving their own personal goals. Many of these guys are up early in the morning for individual skill work, come see me around mid day for their strength & conditioning work, then off to another individual skill session and then play pick-up at night. They do that 5-6 days a week. That is dedication!
On the topic of dedication, a powerful quote comes to mind (which was shared to me by the legendary Coach Don Meyer):
“There are two pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Take your choice.”
Everything in life, whether shopping for a new a TV or chasing your dream of playing in the NBA comes down to three simple questions:
1) What exactly do you want? (play college/pro basketball)
2) What does it cost? (time, effort, consistency)
3) Are you willing to pay the price? (make sacrifices, be focused and dedicated)
While listening to one of Coach Meyer’s stories he mentioned he heard Tiger Woods makes 100 9-ft putts in a row to end every practice. That is 100 consecutive putts. If he misses his 92nd putt, he starts over! That is dedication. I figure an appropriate equivalent for basketball players are free throws. Are you dedicated enough to end every workout with 25 or 50 or 100 consecutive free throws? Tiger went on to say, “If people knew how hard I worked they wouldn’t think this came so easy to me.” I guess it is true; champions are made when no one is watching!
Another example of dedication is what’s known as the NBA “early bus.” There are two buses that head to the arena before every NBA road game. One heads over 3 hours early and one heads over an hour and half early. The guys that head over on the early bus are usually rookies, guys fighting for playing time, guys on 10 day contracts, etc. Guys that need to put in the extra work as often as possible. They head over early to get up shots, work on their ball handling, and sometimes even lift weights. These guys are dedicated to getting better every day. Legend has it NBA superstar Tim Duncan continued to take the early bus every game, even after his legacy and superstardom where solidified. In fact, the Spurs organization took notice and said “if our best player can take the early bus, then everyone can take the early bus.” Needless to say the Spurs only have one bus to games now!
The truly dedicated players understand dedication isn’t a sometimes thing, it is an all the time thing. There is no such thing as being “kind of dedicated.” You are either dedicated or you’re not; there is no in between.
Now the question is, are you dedicated?
If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible!
Train hard. Train smart.
28. April 2009 10:55
What are your favorite brands?
Nike? Apple? Facebook? BMW? Vitamin Water?
What traits come to mind when you think about your favorite brands?
Elite? Durable? Stylish? Performance? Quality?
Do you consider people to be brands? Well they are! The most obvious is Michael Jordan (heck, his company is called the Jordan Brand!). What about Tiger Woods, Donald Trump, Lil’ Wayne, and LeBron “King” James? Do you consider them brands? I certainly do. Why? Because the characteristics that come to mind when you think of them are automatically associated to whatever product they endorse. Make sense?
Whether you are a player, a coach or a trainer; it is important you start viewing yourself as a brand. Think of it as “brand you.” Everything you do affects your brand; either in a positive way or a negative way. The way you dress, the way you act, the way you play… it all reflects your brand. And if you want to have the type of stellar reputation the companies and people mentioned above have; then you need to take your brand very seriously. And just to clarify; I believe in being authentic. I am not telling you to be someone else, pretend you are LeBron James, or to try to please others just for the sake of it. You need to set the standards of your brand, decide what characteristics you find most important and then live up to them every day of your life.
One of my favorite movies of all time is an old school cult classic called Boiler Room; starring Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck before they were Hollywood superstars. My favorite concept from the movie was a tip on how to be a self fulfilling prophet. It was called, “act as if.” My advice to you is to act as if you are already a quality brand.
Is your goal to play college basketball? Act as if you already are a college player! And by that I mean hold yourself to the same standard of excellence as an elite college basketball player would… now. Carry yourself with the same honor, character, humbleness and work ethic as a Stephen Curry or Tyler Hansbrough or Blake Griffin – the poster boys of college basketball. Who knows, it may come true?! Are you in college trying to make it to the pros? Do the same thing. I sincerely hope you understand it is going to take much more than a killer crossover and a wet jump shot to make it in the league. Hundreds of guys have that. You need to separate yourself from the pack. You need to make your brand stand out. While the LeBron’s, Kobe’s, and CP3’s have extraordinary talent; they also have charisma, professionalism, the ability to be coached, and an unmatched passion for the game. If you don’t already possess them, you can start to act as if you have those qualities as well!
In my quest to read 50 books in 2009, I just got done reading two excellent books which I highly recommend to any player or coach; Money Players by Marc Isenberg and Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel. Both are invaluable resources and are the inspiration for this blog and the concept of looking at you as a brand. Mr. Schawbel was the one who coined the phrase “brand you.” Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Now that we have established you are your own brand; what do you want people to think about your brand? What would you want them to say when describing your brand? Hard worker or lazy? Coachable or a hard-head? Energy giver or energy taker?
What makes your brand unique on the court? What do you bring to the table? Are you a great shooter? Or are you a ball hog? Are you a lock-up defender? Or do you only play one end of the floor? Are you a good teammate; the glue guy that does the little things like take charges and dive for loose balls? Or are you only focused on yourself?
What makes your brand special off the court? Are you a good student? Or are you a class clown and a jackass? Are you honest and have great character? Or are you always looking for a short-cut?
Nike cares about what people think of their brand. So does Apple. So does Vitamin Water. So does any big time brand. So should you.
If you don’t think these things matter you’re crazy. They matter more than you know. Your brand and what people think about it matters a lot and has a huge influence over the opportunities you will have in life. Think about it; you only buy brands you like and trust; why would people be any different? Would you buy an iPod if there was a good chance it would break? Would you drink Gatorade if it tasted like cat urine? Would you buy Nike’s if they hurt your feet? Absolutely not! So why would a college coach want to give you a scholarship or an NBA general manager give you a contract if they didn’t believe in and have confidence in your brand; both on and off the court? The answer is they wouldn’t!
Still don’t think your actions affect your brand? Ask Britney Spears or Michael Vick. Both are tremendously talented and both of their brands have suffered irreversible hits because of their actions.
On the flip side; your actions can drastically improve your brand. Do you think Nike signed Kevin Durant to a $70 million contract just because of his basketball talent? Absolutely not. They signed KD because his brand is an asset to the Nike brand. KD’s brand, above and beyond his unbelievable basketball ability, is about passion, work ethic, respect, and professionalism. Same as Nike.
As I mentioned before; everything you do reflects your brand – everything! The way you dress, your email grammar, your email address, your Facebook and MySpace profiles, your manners, your voicemail message, your voicemail etiquette, your handshake, your eye contact… the list goes on and on.
Now, I am not that old, turned 33 in January and I spend a good deal of time working with players in junior high, high school and college… so I am totally in tune with what’s “cool” and what’s “hot.” I believe in being an individual and expressing yourself appropriately… but within reason. It doesn’t bother me if someone has a tattoo (assuming they were of age when they got it and/or their parents approved) or has a funky haircut. But even I roll my eyes when a player sends me an incoherent email full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Or sends it from an address like email@example.com. How am I supposed to take them seriously? Same goes for someone with a weak handshake, who is afraid of eye contact, has a 5 minute rap song on their outgoing voice message, or has a Facebook profile full of inappropriate pictures. In my mind, they just don’t “get it.” They might be a tremendous player; but my initial opinion of their brand is negative; so I ain’t buyin’!
According to Me 2.0, research has shown it takes less than 30 seconds for someone to form a lasting impression of you. If you make a poor first impression, it can take up to 21 follow up impressions to change their view! So first impressions are a big deal. Remember, whether it is right or wrong, people will always judge you and judge your brand. And whether you realize it or not, you do the same.
One of my favorite stories of first impressions and building a strong brand is when Michael Redd met Jerry Colangelo. Back in 2006 when USA Basketball was in the initial stages of putting together the “Redeem Team” to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics; Jerry Colangelo (managing director of USA Basketball) set individual interviews with every potential player. He wanted to meet with them face to face prior to deciding who to put on the team. Michael Redd drove straight from his practice with the Milwaukee Bucks to Chicago for the interview. When Mr. Colangelo answered the door Michael was standing there in his warm-ups with a garment bag on his shoulder. After shaking hands Michael asked if he could be excused to the rest room. When he emerged a few minutes later he was dressed in a full suit and tie. Now he was ready for the interview.
Michael Redd’s actions landed him on the team that eventually won the gold medal. Putting on his suit and tie for the interview showed respect and professionalism. You see, he gets it. He understands the importance of his brand.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post or want to contact me about my training services or MVP program; please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible!
Train hard. Train smart.
22. April 2009 10:57
There is no argument Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to have ever played the game. But his legacy is far greater than his record breaking stats, 6 championship rings, and the fact he earned every accolade offered by the NBA from the MVP to the Defensive Player of the Year to the Slam Dunk champion. MJ changed the entire culture of the sports entertainment industry through his myriad of endorsements and business ventures. He was a pioneer, a trendsetter, and for well over a decade was the most famous person on the planet. Everyone wanted to “be like Mike.”
Everything he did was about excellence. This still holds true today with his Jordan Brand empire.
This is my fifth consecutive year to work the prestigious Jordan Brand All American Classic; held at world renowned Madison Square Garden in New York City. This event is always one of the highlights of my year. Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand team invited the top 20 high school players in the nation (and top 16 international high school age players) to the Big Apple for, for as they put it, “the best basketball experience of your life.” The four day event offered so much more than just basketball. The group did an autograph session at the House of Hoops in Harlem, participated in a bowling tournament at Lucky Strike (with Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Asher Roth, and Vince Carter), scrimmaged at the Gauchos facility in the Bronx, and most importantly visited a boys and girls club and interacted with the kids. Staying completely authentic to the style of the Jordan Brand; everything about this event was first class – from the hotel Westin in Times Square to the buses to the food to the gear.
While the entire week was amazing, there were two experiences I enjoyed the most.
The first was hanging out with long time client and friend Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have known and worked with KD since his junior year of high school; so it is always nice to catch up with him. KD had a breakout sophomore year in the league and finished in the top 5 in the NBA in scoring. But more impressive to me is how humble and down to earth he still is. He has not let fame or fortune change who he is and his work ethic and dedication to the game is stronger than ever. He will be an NBA All Star next year and for many years to come.
The other experience was meeting Michael Jordan and hearing him talk to the players before the game. He was absolutely captivating. He took questions from the players and his answers were dead on. Here are his paraphrased answers to a few questions:
Q: What motivated you to play hard every single night; even after you had proven you were the best player in the NBA?
MJ: “Every single time I took the floor I assumed someone was seeing me play for the first time. Maybe the guy who collects the ticket stubs. Maybe a 12 year old kid coming to his first game. I wanted to prove to that person that I was worth the hype and was as good as advertised. Plus I played hard every day in practice; so playing hard in the game was just a habit.”
Q: What advice would give us about our freshman year in college?
MJ: “Go in humble and be prepared to make a great first impression. Go in accepting, as a freshman, you are the lowest guy on the totem pole. Let your work ethic and passion for the game do the talking, not your high school reputation. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you; go out and earn it.”
Q: Who is better – LeBron or Kobe?
MJ: “Kobe is the best player in the NBA now. He plays both ends of the floor, is the most polished offensively, and works harder than anyone. But LeBron has the potential to be the best ever. As incredible as he already is, he is still learning the game. LeBron is going to be unbelievable.”
There you have it. Insight and wisdom from the best to have ever played. And I got to hear it first hand!
My role at these events is to get the players warm-up and stretched out before and after practice. If you want some info on some quality stretches to do after you workout or play, email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com and I will send you some info. I will send you the same types of stretches I do with the Jordan Brand All Americans!
Train hard. Train smart.
13. April 2009 10:58
If you want to be successful at anything in life, especially basketball, you need to work hard every single day. Are you rolling your eyes? Sound cliché? Sound redundant? Probably, but nevertheless is it true! One of the best coaches and motivational speakers I have ever heard speak was Jim Valvano. I have an old grainy video clip of him speaking in which he said something that changed my life forever:
“Every morning when you wake up, you have only two choices. The choice to work hard or the choice to not work hard. That’s it, no other choices. Either you work hard or your don’t; it’s pretty simple. If you choose not to work hard, you will fail. If you choose to work hard, you still might fail! How is that for a deal? Success is never guaranteed, but it is impossible without hard work.”
While I firmly believe hard work is the backbone of success in any endeavor, I believe there are several other factors that contribute to whether or not you are successful. I am going to focus on three of them: finding someone to push you, accessing developmental resources, and strengthening your “want to.”
It is very rare for anyone to be successful without any help. So a key to being successful is finding someone who pushes you. Someone who pushes you to be the best you can be. Someone who holds you accountable. Someone who motivates you. Someone who tells you what you need to hear; not what you want to you hear. Someone who gives you energy. Someone who encourages you. Someone who coaches you. Everyone needs someone like this in their life. If you are really lucky, you will find several people like this and surround yourself with them as often as possible. And don’t wait for this to happen by chance, go find this person! You have a much better chance of being successful if you do.
This person can be a sibling, a parent, a friend, a teammate, a coach, a trainer, or a mentor. Who they are is not as important as what they are. Are they someone who makes you better? Are they helping you become more successful?
Tiger Woods is one of the most dominant athletes on the planet. He has natural ability, a tremendous golf IQ and a relentless work ethic. He has already attained astronomical success. So why does Tiger Woods need a coach?
He doesn’t. Tiger Woods doesn’t need a coach, he wants a coach!
He wants someone to make him better. As good as Tiger is, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, he wants to find areas where he can improve. He studies film on his swing hoping to find a flaw. Why would the best golfer of all time want to find a flaw in his swing? Because it will mean he can still get better! Tiger humbly recognizes this and uses a coach. But it is not just the fact he uses a coach that is important. It is the fact he has found someone in his life to push him; every day, every practice; every match. Tiger’s success is not an accident.
Do you have a person like this in your life?
Another important ingredient to being successful is gaining access to developmental resources. Whether you are a basketball player or coach, you have to make sure you are constantly progressing and developing. Either you are getting better or you are getting worse, there isn’t anything in between. As a veteran basketball strength & conditioning coach, I spend a good deal of time on my own professional development and am constantly seeking both people and resources to broaden my scope and assist in my success. I read the latest training books and manuals, watch the latest training DVD’s, attend numerous coaching clinics, and network with dozens of collegiate and NBA strength coaches. I know part of my success is making sure I am on the cutting edge with my training techniques, concepts, and equipment. This commitment to my professional development takes time and effort, but it is well worth it.
What resources do you use to get better?
A third ingredient of being successful is strengthening your “want to.” Everyone has a want to list. If you are a basketball player your want to’s probably include I want to jump higher or I want to gain 10 lbs. Most times people want to’s are just lip service. They just say they want something but they don’t work as hard as they can to get it. Think your want to strong? Let’s say your goal is to gain 10 lbs. over the summer. If I weighed you on June 1st and told you on September 1st I would weigh you again, and if you were 10 lbs. heavier I would give you $1,000,000 in tax free cash, would you accept my offer? Of course you would! Think you would attain your goal? I guarantee you would. Heck you would probably exceed it and gain 15-20 lbs. because your want to would be unstoppable!
One way to gauge how strong your “want to” is by seeing how many times you give in to the little voice in your head. The voice that says, "I am too tired to work out today. I don’t want to get up early. My legs are too sore to get up extra shots. I can’t do that drill, it is way too hard.” If you let that little voice win, your want to is not strong enough! If you let that voice win, you won’t be successful.
How strong is your “want to?” Do you really want something or just say you do?
I am extremely passionate about the game of basketball as well as about productive strength training and conditioning. But I am also very passionate about helping other people be successful. I have a long list of people who have helped me, including a gentleman I have never met in person, Mr. Steve Chandler. I have read several of his books, listened to countless audio tapes, and have subscribed to his Club Fearless. Several of the concepts in this blog come from things he has been generous enough to share with me.
If I can ever be a resource to you for your strength & conditioning, please let me know, I would be honored to help.
For starters; do you know what type of shoes you should be training in?
Email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com and I will tell you.
Train hard. Train smart.